Precocious SuperHeros

I remember that once YeYe had posted a poem on the front door of our house in Shanghai citing our bravery and accomplishment.  I had to ask Mom for the details.  Our house faced quite a busy street, but it also had a wide sidewalk in front.  On the side of the house was an alleyway with a rod iron gate down a little way that could be used to close it off.  Apparently Winston and I were playing in front of our house one day when, all of a sudden, we heard police blowing whistles and chasing a man running very fast towards us.  We had a feeling that the man would be turning into the alley away from the busy street.  So we decided to run towards the iron gate and we quickly closed it.  Sure enough the man came our way and was caught by the police because he was trapped.  The police praised us for our bravery and quick action.  They couldn’t stop talking all about it to YeYe .  (YeYe and PoPo lived on the first floor of our house.)  YeYe was so proud of us that he wrote a poem and posted it on our front door for all to read.  Winston and I were about six years old.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Prior to my appointment with the pulmonologist, I had a pulmonary function testing session at Virginia Mason.  In an upright sitting position, my air flow rate and volume seemed reasonably normal.  However, at the end of any attempted ‘forced’ expiration of a breath, I couldn’t help wheezing and coughing.  At one point in doing the actual test, I passed out momentarily!  This startled and scared Linnea.

After testing we met with Dr. Gerbino the pulmonologist who had already reviewed my case.  He agreed that I most likely am suffering the known but  unusual to rare side effect of ‘pulmonary fibrosis’ causing scaring of the pleural linings and resultant fluid accumulation in the chest cavity.  However, the picture is also very similar if one has passive congestive heart failure and Dr. G wanted to completely rule out that possibility and ordered me to have an Echo-cardiogram.  That was done Friday afternoon.  (Not knowing more than any layman, from my perspective as a patient, it appeared that the monitor looked pretty normal with all my valves functional and no signs of heart failure; my heart rhythm was steady and solid.)  Dr. G also started me on a steroid inhaler to supplement my bronchodilator inhaler.  I am to continue with my diuretics (so far I have lost 6 lbs. since Monday) and see him next week.  He said that he will recommend that I should stop any further treatment with the Gem-Tax Chemo protocol.  Rather, I should start oral steroids to attempt to ‘repair’ the lungs in preparation for surgery.  The final decision is to be made in consultation with Dr. P. the oncologist.

I’ll be seeing Dr Picozzi Monday and Dr. Gerbino on Thursday this coming week.

Monday, February 22, 2016

My appointment for repeat CT scan was at 9:20 am.  We were up early Monday morning and on the 8:45 ferry to Seattle.  First I rushed to the oncology floor to get my regular blood draw and to establish port access for the radiology dept to inject the “dye” for the scan.  It was a little nerve-wracking, not knowing what the scan would reveal.  But I had lots of messages from friends and from my church community saying that they were praying for good results and wishing me luck.  After the scan we waited to see Dr. Picozzi scheduled at 11:20.

So, the wait was agonizing (more so for Linnea) and when Dr. P did come in we could sense that it wasn’t all good news.  The good news part is that the tumor was now visibly ‘undetectable,’ so the chemotherapy really worked….and surgery is now definitely possible.  But the “bad news” is that the chemo treatment also created a serious side effect, that of “pulmonary fibrosis” a thickening of the lining of the lungs with fluid accumulation in my chest cavity.  This explains the severe shortness of breath and weakness that I’ve been experiencing increasingly for a month; an uncommon, but known, side effect.   So, the lungs have to be cleared before any further chemo considerations and/or surgery. Dr. P cancelled the treatment for today and requested a consultation with the lung specialist.  Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make connection …so we returned home awaiting further disposition.  I have actually gained ten more pounds in the two weeks since we were last at the clinic.  Linnea had expressed concern about my weight gain two weeks ago (at that time, ten pounds up from when I started treatment in October.) but the Dr. said he wasn’t worried.  He just said, “A pancreatic patient gaining, is a pancreatic patient healing.”  This time, the first thing he did when he met with us was to hand us an Rx for diuretics.  Dr. P also said that he would have liked to have been notified about the breathing episodes I suffered last week.  I didn’t want Linnea to contact Dr P since being a doctor, I didn’t want to bother another Dr.; and furthermore, going to ER to wait for a stranger Dr. seemed unproductive to me.  But Dr. Picozzi understood that and also said that we shouldn’t hesitate to contact him….so Linnea will be calling whether I want her to or not!  (We’re still waiting to hear from the lung Dr., expecting that we will be going back to Seattle sometime this week.)  Dr. P said to keep the treatment appointment with him for next Monday, but he also said that perhaps I probably won’t need the full 16 treatments, (I’ve completed 12.)  Because of the regression of the tumor, the growth/lesion is now deemed “totally resectable.”  I’m hoping that the surgery can be moved up and the chemo shortened.

Everything now depends on how my lung situation responds.

Spying at Home

As effective as we’d like to hope the current slogan “See something, Say something” might be, it’s not as clever a strategy as what the Communists’ employed.  After gaining total control of China in 1949, we were often asked at school, “What did you have to eat last night?”  We’d report that we had rice with roast pork or noodles with shredded chicken or something.  Then we’d be told that meat cost money and “Do you know where your parents hide their money?”  Winston and I would innocently say we don’t know, but we’d try to find out.  Thus we’d go home and follow Mom around the house, giggling to each other that we were on a secret mission.  Mom found it odd that we followed her so closely and asked what we were up to.  Finally we had to fess up, and she’d take us around the entire house on a treasure hunt; we looked here and there and everywhere.  We found no real treasures.  When we returned to school, we reported our findings to our teachers.  They reprimanded us for not trying hard enough!  Asking little children to spy at home!  This was happening in every household during the early days of the Communist regime.  (Apparently we were smarter and more secretive than expected for I distinctively remember playing with the gold bars and being unable to build two story houses because the bars were too heavy.)

Chemo Sessions 3/4 Completed

On February 8, Chinese Lunar New Year Day, I had my 12th out of 16th Chemo treatments.  It was uneventful.  But since I had not entered much on this Medical thread, I wanted to report that I am doing quite well and tolerating my side effects.  Sorry to have disappointed my visitors who’ve been checking in and finding no posting.  Yesterday, 2/9/16, the day after treatment, I played a round of scramble golf with Tom Jurcak as my partner against Steve Stenberg and Lynn Divelbess, we shot an 80!  Usually after playing a complete round of golf, I get totally exhausted the following day.  But, today, I awoke energetic! Must be getting stronger!!  According to my iPhone Health App, I average 1 and 3/4 mile walk each day. Of course golf days rack up 4 miles and boosts the average!  Some days I hardly move.

The visible signs that I show currently are only minor ones:  loss of hair, splinter hemorrhages under the finger nails, irregular nail growth, loss of voice with frequent coughs and sense of shortness of breath.  I started using a bronchial dilator inhalator.  My blood pressure bounces up and down erratically, but I am carefully monitoring it to bridge over the next two months when Chemo would come to an end.  I just hope that my heart is strong enough to tolerate the rapid heart rate response of 130+ when the B/P occasionally runs 60/42.  My GI system is active as the nature of my disease, and I am able to manage things under control.  Because of my low albumin and blood protein, I am retaining some fluid.  I am 10 lbs heavier than before treatment, 1/2 probably due to fluid, I’d guess.

Thanks All for your love, thoughts and prayers.  I am deeply appreciative and overwhelmed by your support.

Gong Xi Fa Cai.  Happy and Healthy Chinese New Year of the red Monkey!!


Chu Tree

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!  Xin Nian Kwai Le.

February 8th, 2016 is Chinese Lunar New Year.  Happy new year to all.  PoPo once had a dream that her children (descendants) were spread all over the world. Indeed, her dream came true!  In honor of New Year and in honor of YeYe and PoPo, I am enclosing our family tree, indentations indicate generations and blue color indicates that that person is deceased.

YeYe Chu Hao Ran/ PoPo Wang Xue Dao

1st Daughter Sheila (Chu)/L.H. Kwong

  • Henry/Cathy Kwong
    • Mark/Caroline Kwong                                     
      • Colin Kwong
      • Nicholas Kwong
      • Peter Kwong
    • Chris/Alicia Kwong
      • Courtney Kwong
      • Emmitt Kwong
  • Cecil Kwong
    • Kevin Kwong
    • David Kwong

2nd Daughter Xin Yi Chu

3rd Daughter Faith (Chu)/Shu Yang

  • MeiDe/Carl Fu
    • Maggie Fu
  • MeiZhen/Steve Ye
    • Melissa Ye

1st son Daniel/Shirley Chu

  • Franklin/Linnea Chu
    • Matthew/Kattarina Simons
      • Ariana Simons
    • Jennifer Chu/Michael Walton
    • Catherine Chu/Mark Kramer
      • Mira Chu-Shore
      • Saya Chu-Shore
    • Marco/Shaheena Simons
      • Leila Simons
      • Emil Simons
    • David/Ana (Saucedo) Chu
      • Fiona Chu
  • William Chu/Cindy DawsonShea              
    • William Chu/Julie Greyerbiehl
      • Ethan Chu
      • Tsipporah Chu           
    • Kimberly (Chu)/Fred Hinz
      • Karina Hinz
      • Karalee Hinz
  • Daniel Jr/Sue (VanAtta) Chu
    • Christine (Chu)/Patrick Hill
      • Anthony Dotson
      • Grace Hill
    • Daniel J Chu/Timothy Flora
  • Elizabeth (Chu)/George Domahidy

Continue reading “Chu Tree”

Time Frame Clarification


Admittedly, so far, the posted vignettes have been confusing chronologically.  So let me try to remedy that in this entry.  I will now briefly write about our family situation from 1940 to 1948.

If you’ll recall, Daniel left the Kuomintang post as a translator in late 1940 and joined his friend Daniel Nelson, Jr. serving newly arrived American GI’s at the American USO in Chongqing, and flying supplies to refugee settlements and camps in central China.

Early 1941, Daniel’s father, (YeYe), told him that he had a dream which indicated that their number one daughter, Sheila, a physician in Shanghai, was deathly ill.  Daniel was sent to check it out.  Sheila was OK.  During Daniel’s visit Sheila introduced him to the younger sister of a good physician friend.  Shirley Liu, only 16 at the time, was already studying premed.  Even though Daniel was 24, eight years older, nonetheless he was totally and absolutely “smitten!”  He simply could not and would not leave her alone!!  His persistent courtship culminated in their marriage on Christmas Eve, 1942.  Nine months later, Shirley was 18; they welcomed 7-month preemie twins Franklin and Winston.  Daniel found work as the English school teacher in QuJiang, Kwangtung, (my birthplace) near Swatow, Shirley’s hometown during the early days of the Japanese invasion.  The warfare surrounding QuJiang and the school was relentless.  In early 1944, the school was shut down.  Our unit family retreated to Chongqing and met up with most of the rest of the Chu clan.  Daniel was able to reconnect with Daniel Nelson and resumed the “rescue mission work.”

Sometime late 1945, Daniel ran into his Kuomintang supervisor and was compelled to return to service.  Now that the Japanese had surrendered, the Kuomintang government was threatened by the upcoming Communist Party.  Daniel was assigned a position in Shanghai where he was given a 4-story building (house) which had been confiscated and used by the Japanese.  The house eventually provided space for my father’s parents and other relatives to join us.  (On March 12, 1946, Daniel Jr. was born in Shanghai.).  Daniel’s duty now was to intercept messages and disrupt communications among the Communist Party members in an effort to thwart their attempts to get together.  He was involved in this work until his supervisor mysteriously was killed in an airplane crash.  The Communists were rapidly gaining ground and secretly Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang government were preparing to retreat to Taiwan.  Daniel’s division was no longer supported and he was officially released from service.  His accomplishments with the Kuomintang Party were not overlooked by the Communist Party.

Now we are in the year 1948.  In the spring was our trip to Swatow and the ship wreck experience.  That was my visit to GongGong when I made the decision to be a physician.  After a short visit in Swatow, Daniel returned to Shanghai and converted most of his profit from the money transfer into 12 gold bars and a few gold nuggets.  Mom and we kids stayed in Swatow for over a month.  When we returned to Shanghai, Dad was preparing to go to America.  He had been accepted by Hamma Divinity School of Theology at Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio to begin studies commencing the fall semester of 1948.  He left China in early August; Mom, Winston, Daniel, Jr. and I remained in Shanghai.  YeYe and PoPo had already moved in with us.  We did not see father again until December 1950 in HongKong.